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Old February 1st, 2010, 09:56 PM   #1
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JVC GY-HD200UB vs. Canon XL-H1a

Hello all - this is my first post on this great website. A little bit about me before I ask for your advice:

I am a recent college graduate currently residing in the NY metro area. I left my school and job upstate (photographer for an NBC affiliate) to come home to get into the sports market. Right now I am freelancing doing utility work for companies including Fox Sports, NBC Sports, Versus, CBC, MSG Network, and the MLB Network. Just recently I joined one of the unions. It is tough breaking into this line of work with all the competition, but there are plenty of gigs here. My goal is to continue in this line of work as a camera operator. I'm confident I'm on the right path, but as everyone tells me, "baby steps".

So this leads me to my thread topic. The JVC GY-HD200ub vs. Canon XL-H1a. I have been researching quite a bit and have yet to see any direct comparisons between the two.

I shoot local sports (games/highlights/recruiting/scouting) with various independent companies to keep my camera skills fresh while I do my utility work. Most of the time I have to borrow my friends cameras and it is becoming too much of a hassle without my own equipment. My main use of the camera will be sporting events, but I want some versatility so my shooting options in the future will not be limited.

When I was working at NBC I used a Sony XDCAM (I cannot remember which model) with a Canon lens. It was a beautiful beast. I loved it. I obviously do not have the funds for a 5-figure camera, but since day one I prefer having a shoulder mounted camera in certain situations at sporting events. That camera weighed a ton, which wasn't much fun, but what appeals to me about the HD200UB is the Fuji lens. I will feel at home with all of the manual options. And yes I know that I could rig smaller cameras to be used shoulder mounted, but with that lens no other camera sticks out to me in that price range.

At B&H in NYC they have a used HD200ub, and obviously no new models since it has been discontinued. I have found other used models and some new that have been sitting on the shelf. I asked for their advice there and the just told me what I wanted to hear so I would make the purchase.

I have never owned my own camera so I consider myself to be somewhat of a newbie buying a camera, hence why I am asking for help.

Is this camera my best bet at the $4,000 range for my needs? Or is the higher priced Canon XL-H1a?

I feel that shooting progressive would be better rather than interlaced, but is that just opinion over fact?

Does anyone have any first hand experience shooting sports with this camera or others in this range that could offer some advice in my purchase?

Were there any glaring issues with the HD200ub that would or better yet should steer me away from it?

I appreciate any help, suggestions, info regarding the camera questions I asked above. From what I have read on this site some of you can be extremely helpful.

Cheers,

Sean Feiertag
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Old February 1st, 2010, 10:34 PM   #2
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Let me start by saying welcome. Secondly, let me point out that the HD200 has been discontinued. Thirdly, let me point out that my two HD200's have treated me very well for the past two-ish years and I expect them to continue to do so until I eventually retire them.

I'd have a hard time buying a discontinued camera right now if I were just starting out... Are there other options besides those you listed - sure. I PERSONALLY would look at the compact Sony offerings, both HDV and the new NXCam, as well as the EX-1 IF you're looking to spend a bit more and get a LOT more.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 02:11 AM   #3
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In the fifth paragraph I stated that it is discontinued. I am aware of that.

I really do not want a tiny camera. And I do not want to spend more then $4500. The EX-1 seems a bit out of my price range.

Why would you suggest not getting a discontinued camera as my "first camera"?

Do you think that shooting 720p/60 wouldn't be sufficient for my needs?
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 09:31 AM   #4
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I LOVE 60P. 720 downconverts to SD for DVD very well and native progressive works well for web based delivery (often 24P after conversion - the math of 60 =>24 is pretty simple too, leading to high quality conversions). The motion characteristics of 60P work very well for me in my business model.

Buying a discontinued camera CAN lead to a world of hurt if you need support down the line (which is more likely if this is one's first professional purchase - remember there are issues with FireWire ports on these things...). As well, it becomes increasingly difficult to find accessories as time goes on. As well, I consider it to be particularly bad business sense as marketing "obsolete" gear is hard enough IF your clientele are tech savvy.

Like I said, I own two of them. I bought the first one based on solid research. The second one I bought because the first one was doing it's job admirably. If I needed a third, would I buy one? No. I'd rent or save for a HM700.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 11:08 AM   #5
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Thank you Shaun. Some good advice.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 11:29 AM   #6
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The JVC will prepare you for higher end cameras as you move onwards and upwards as the ergonomics are more similar.

IMO the ergonomics rule out the XL for me. I have an HD111 as a B cam and I've always been very happy with the picture it produces. I prefer it to my XHA1 picture wise from a purely subjective point of view. Not exactly the same cameras but similar to what you are considering. The Canon is sharper but that is of little difference in a subjective "which looks nicer" test IMHO.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 12:23 PM   #7
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Mike M. - Like I stated in my original post, I am used to using higher end cameras and that is why I am seeking one with a lens like the HD200ub.

But as Shaun mentioned it probably isn't a good idea to purchase a discontinued camera.

This won't be easy.

I have looked at the Sony HVR-Z7U, which is a bit more then i would like to spend, but the interchangeable lens along with it's other capabilities intrigue my interest.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 12:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Feiertag View Post
but the interchangeable lens along with it's other capabilities intrigue my interest.
Just be careful not to get caught up in the whole "buying a camera with an interchangeable lens system and never changing the lens out" thing that has "plagued" us since the Canon XL-1. IF you honestly think you WILL change out lenses, go nuts (and I encourage it!) but if you are highly unlikely to (like the majority of folks who bought XL-1's back in the day), go for a matched kit instead.

For the record, I've had the 16x kit lens, the 13x wide angle and PL mount lenses on my JVC so I'm not blowing smoke...
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 10:36 AM   #9
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Sean,

I use an xlh1 and a sony fx 1000. Basicly I shoot a fair amount of sports and most do not require a lens any more powerful than the quality 20x lenses that come with these cameras. I do change lenses at times but for most it is not required. I use the sony for run and gun shooting but I am now using it for hockey games because of the better focusing and light collection. I am finding myself using this camera more and more.

I think shaun's suggestion is a pretty good one. You pay a lot morre for interchangable lenses, and then you have to buy the lenses and that adds a huge expense. If you are shooting football from a high enough vantage I think a larger lens could be advantagous.

think it over carefully before you jump off. As it has been said numerous times, the camera is the cheapest part!!!
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Old February 14th, 2010, 09:45 PM   #10
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Thank you for all of your advice.

I am really torn on what to do. Someone I work with just bought a Canon D7 and has been starting to shoot a doc. with it. I never cared for the whole DSLR for video but the image quality blew me away.

I haven't messed around with it but I'm assuming a DSLR would not be ideal for shooting sports. Am I wrong? Does anyone have first hand experience?

Thanks
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Old February 15th, 2010, 02:23 PM   #11
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Howdy Sean, sounds like your getting a lot of good advice. I'll just jump in here and give my .02 because I have a JVC GY-HD100 (the first one) and a 7D.

The HD100/200/250 are nice cams. The ergonomics of the HD100 are fantastic and it has a normal Fuji lens which is great for sports and run and gun. I also really like the image of the HD100. I've used mine a lot for bike races,etc and it works great. I think you can pick up a used 100/200/250 for pretty cheap right now. As has been previously stated buying obsolete gear can be an iffy business idea but if your looking for something to practice with an HD100/200/250 in GOOD SHAPE could work well for you.

Now for the 7D. A ton of ink has been spilled about all the 7D's issues and they are there. That being said the 7D image blows away the JVC image. I've also found the 7D to be much more fun to shoot with, it took a little practice and tweaking to get there but the camera is a joy to use.

The advantages are pretty considerable I'm finding. First you have access to all that sweet Canon glass and it's cheap to rent. Solid state recording as opposed to tape and I love how the Canon starts recording as soon as you hit the button, my JVC takes forever to get that tape moving. Selective depth of field. You can use some pretty huge f numbers on the 7D and the image still looks fantastic, you don't have to shoot everything at f1.4. It's small size and light weight are nice plus you can use lighter tripods, etc. Low light performance is MUCH better than my JVC, not even comparable really - the JVC blows in low light.

The 7D is about $2000 with a decent lens. If you have a $4000 budget you could put together a pretty sweet DSLR rig.

The only new, nice, low cost shoulder mount HD cam I'm aware of is the HM700. It's a nice camera with a lot of great options and good codec choices. It's also $6995 at a B&H.

I had a buddy who has one bring his over and we compared it to my 7D on the same monitor. The 7D image was way better. The difference in depth of field was obviously huge but the color handling of the 7D also looked much better to us. The 7D image was less noisy as well. It was surprising how big a difference it was.

Shooting sports with the 7D. I'm thinking a wide lens and a 70-200 2.8 and you should be good to go. All those guys shooting stills with the 5D's and 7D's seem to do o.k. :)

Good luck and I hope this helps. Buying a video camera these days is pretty tough!
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Old February 22nd, 2010, 06:48 AM   #12
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Unless you're only planning on shooting highlights and not covering the game you can cross the 7D off your list immediately for the following reasons:

-no zoom motor/servo
-no built in ND filters
-no real way to hook up to a switcher
-focus can be tricky (shallow dof and lcd not suited for video without z-finder type device)
-12 min record limit
-overheating may be an issue if shooting on a hot day
-zoom range limited by lens choice (you will get burned by this at some point)
-handheld is tough even with a support rig
-built in audio is far from ideal

Between the JVC and the XLH1 it's really a matter of personal preference. If you're going to be doing a good amount of shoulder camera, then I'd say the JVC wins hands down. It's the best HDV camera out there in this respect, especially when coupled with an Anton-Bauer or IDX. This combo will also let you shoot an entire game without doing a battery change. Keep in mind though that the JVC does not have any image stabilization. If this is important to you than you may want to consider the XLH1. The XLH1 also has a slightly better zoom range and a bit sharper image. Also, I forgot to mention that the JVC has a flip-out LCD while the XLH1 does not.

My suggestion would be to go over to B&H and test out both cameras to see which one feels better suited to your needs. Get whatever camera will let YOU create the best images.

If you do decide on the JVC I would highly recommend looking into the KA-551U quick release plate. It is really a must to get the camera to balance properly on a tripod. I've used this combo for sports many times and it works great.

Whatever camera you end up getting, I'd also highly recommend getting a zoom control. For sports coverage on sticks, this is a must.

Good luck with your decision!
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Old February 22nd, 2010, 08:06 AM   #13
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Hey Sean,

I produce/shoot/edit for NBC here in NYC.

I own the Canon XL H1S (same as the "a" version except it also has HD-SDI, Genlock, Timecode ports). It is a fantastic camera and I use it for the stuff I produce here, along with the Canon 7D. I do a lot of narrative/doc style shooting.

Feel free to shoot me an email if you want. You can come by sometime and hold the camera, ask me questions, etc.

But my personal experience with it is that it is a fantastic HD camera. Really produces stunning images.
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Old February 22nd, 2010, 06:39 PM   #14
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I'm a JVC fanboy. You can get one for under 2 grand used. It's a form of larceny considering what you get. Great for ball games too with it's long lens and long recording format. A Firestore is highly recommended.

There *is* an issue with firewire boards getting fried (by Macs usually) so be sure you check it before buying it. What happens is people hook the camera to computer with both ON. User error! There are ways to safeguard though.

If you've got 4k, you can get a used EX1. Twice the price, but as someone who has owned both, it is NOT twice the camera. It *is* better though but not by a ton.

Dunno about the Canon, I've heard the image is comparable to the JVC.

Forget the 7d, not got for recording a game because of the overheating issue.

Brian
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Old February 23rd, 2010, 03:26 AM   #15
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Try Before You Buy

Hi Sean,

I've owned the XL-H1A for 18 months and have found that for me, this camera is poorly balanced when shoulder supported. The front end has all that lens weight hanging out there and I barely feel any weight on my shoulder. After awhile, it causes me to jiggle the camera too much when operating the START/STOP & ZOOM controls with my right hand due to the majority of the weight resting on my right palm. It might be possible to reduce the imbalance by adding weight to the rear of the camera, but I have yet to try that. It comes with a mounting bracket for holding an extra battery. Maybe someone else could "weigh" in on how they offset the weight imbalance, or if they use some additional bracing device. Otherwise a great camera and I'd think you'd be able to pick up a used Canon for around $2,500.


Mark
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